The Holy Angels Story Part 3: Building of the First Church

The immediate area around Oakwood Boulevard was predominately non-Catholic and somewhat anti-Catholic. Every move to secure land for a Church was blocked. The owners were not disposed to sell any portion of their estate for the erection of a Catholic Church. The little group continued to grow. The ardent desire to secure a beautiful location for God's house overcame all obstacles. The property was purchased in the name of Mr. Thomas Moran and the transferred to the Catholic Bishop of Chicago.

They really needed a larger place than Grossman's Hall. There was a church on Oakwood Boulevard called the Baptist Church. It was under litigation so the little group was allowed to lease the building for four months. During this period they worked feverishly with fundraisers, fairs and festivals to secretly purchase small parcels of land. In September of 1880 the little group pooled their parcels of land together and announced that the corner of Oakwood Boulevard and Vincennes now belonged to Holy Angels. On the 8th of the same month, the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the ceremony of laying the corner stone of the Church of Holy Angels, took place. The structure went up rapidly as the time allowed for occupation of the Baptist Church was limited. The first official act of the new Archbishop of Chicago, His Excellency Patrick Feehan, was to dedicate this little church on December 5th, 1880.

On August 29th, 1887, the first school was opened by the Sisters of Mercy. The school was very small with a Principal, Sister Mary Sebastian Nolan, and three other Sisters of Mercy as the faculty. Since there was no convent, the Sisters came to school each day by means of a horse bus, nicknamed "Black Maria". That year there were only two graduates.

As the school grew, it became noted for its scholarly students, among them, Reverend Daniel Lord, S.J. and Circuit Judge Cornelius Harrington who was well known for his wise decisions. At the first World's Fair in 1893, the school made an excellent showing and was the recipient of a medal of excellency.

As Father Tighe's little flock grew larger, they recognized the need for more property and land. In 1882 they purchased more land and began building a rectory, a home for the priests.

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